Kitchen Garden Journal
- Published on Thursday, November 19, 2015, 07:53
- Written by Tim Wilcox
This greenhouse full of greens is a welcome sight as frost is finally putting an end to many of this season's hardiest field crops.
Happily, our coolers are also full to the brim with colorful carrots, beets, radishes, turnips, radicchio and cabbage that will keep us busy and well fed into the deep winter.
We're thrilled to announce that next year we'll have even more room in the coolers since we just started construction on a new barn! The 40x96 building will give us plenty of space to wash and pack our vegetables year-round with a loading dock and enough storage for all our vegetables, equipment and value-added products. We are grateful to have been selected for an APR Improvement grant from the Mass Department of Agriculture (MDAR) to help with the cost of this major investment. We're also excited to install a 27.75 kW PV solar array to offset our energy use in the new building thanks to grants from USDA REAP and MDAR AgEnergy. Caroline spent countless hours this spring writing the proposals and working out the financials to secure the FSA loan and grants to make this huge project possible. We can't wait to start working in the new barn this spring!
This has been a year of intense growth on the farm, with 14 new acres under cultivation across the river in Whately and a significant increase in production. Tim enjoyed his new tractor commute over the blue bridge and hasn't stopped singing the praises of the light sandy soils on the new fields. We got some new equipment, dialed in some new systems and grew some new vegetables.
Chilifest was bigger than ever and we quadrupled sriracha production (we've already sold half of the 16,000 bottles we made). The Greenfield Recorder made a terrific video of how we make our hot sauce to accompany their article and Edible Pioneer Valley just included our sriracha in their Gift Guide! Caroline will be sampling sriracha on Saturday at Provisions 11-2 and Cornucopia 2-5 in Northampton and at River Valley Market on Monday 4-7. For a full list of where to find our sauce visit our Sriracha page.
Come see us and stock up for Thanksgiving at a special Greenfield farmers market at the Middle School on Federal St. this Saturday 10-1. You can also find our vegetatables at Green Fields Market, Atlas Farm Store, Berkshire Organics and Berkshire Coop Market.
It's hard to believe that 2016 marks the 10th anniversary of the Kitchen Garden! We started the farm on just one acre with a rototiller and the two of us and the farm has grown steadily to the 40-acre scale we're at now.
We are so lucky to have such a fantastic farm crew who share our passion for good food and are happy to work hard alongside us to grow organic vegetables for our community. Thank you to Amy, Ash, Clara, Courtney, Davin, Dolly, Emily, Jess, Julia, Kelly, Laura, Max, Mike, Rosie, Steve, Taylor and all the others who devoted so much energy this year to helping us grow. And thanks to all of our loyal customers without whom none of this would be possible!
- Published on Thursday, September 10, 2015, 07:37
- Written by Tim Wilcox
Kitchen Garden Sriracha sauce is back! And it really and truly is better than ever. The peppers this year are amazing! And we’re feeling like we’re getting a lot better at making our sauce at production scale at the Western Mass Food Processing Center in Greenfield.
This year’s sriracha production is expected to be about 16,000 bottles, or 4 times the amount we made last year! We’ve increased the batch size and we’re now processing 1500 lbs of our own chili peppers every week at our production facility, and we’re hoping to do 8 to 10 batches, depending on how the season goes.
It’s been going great so far. The weather for growing peppers and now ripening them on the plants has been nearly perfect. The quality of the fruit is really unlike anything we’ve seen before.
That’s been translating into some really yummy sauce. Each Monday we bring a load of peppers to the kitchen, wash and stem them, then put them through a huge dicing machine. From there they get mixed with garlic, sugar and salt and put into 55 gallon drums to ferment for 1 week. The following Monday we run the fermented peppers through a milling machine to remove the seeds and skin, and the resulting juice is mixed with vinegar and cooked into sauce before bottling and labeling. We’ve had to learn a lot about how to use all of the small-scale industrial equipment there. All of this is is going on simultaneously at the kitchen, and it’s a big job for 12 people.
If you want to make sriracha at home, here’s our home scale version of our recipe. I’ve been meaning to make some small batch varietal srirachas just for fun. Maybe I’ll get to it after chilifest? Feel free to use whichever types of chilies you have on hand, the proportions will work the same.
Kitchen Garden Sriracha
- 5 lbs medium-hot red chili peppers (paprika, cayenne, cherry bomb, fresno, jalapeno)
- 16 garlic cloves, peeled
- 3 Tbsp salt
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 ½ cups vinegar
- 1 tsp xanthan gum* (optional)
In a food processor, pulse chilies and garlic together until coarsely chopped. In a large bowl or plastic container, thoroughly mix in the salt and sugar. Cover loosely with a towel or lid and allow to ferment for 3-4 days at warm room temperature, 70-80 degrees. After the second day you should see the solids rise and separate from the liquid. There should be lots of bubbles. Stir the mixture every day to make sure the solid part doesn’t dry out too much and start to mold. You can also weigh the mixture down with a clean plate and a heavy object to keep the solids submerged.
After 4 days, heat the mixture gently to a boil in a large pot with the vinegar and simmer for 5-10 minutes. This will stop the fermentation. Allow to cool slightly, then pass the mixture through a food mill or a fine sieve to remove the skins and seeds from the juice and pulp. If desired, add the xanthan gum to thicken the sauce slightly and improve the consistency. (The best way to do it is to use an immersion blender, gently sprinkling in the xanthan gum powder as you blenderize the sauce, so that it doesn’t form lumps.) You can keep the sauce indefinitely in the fridge, or can it as you would tomato sauce.
*Xanthan gum is available at natural food stores or online from Bob’s Red Mill.
- Published on Friday, August 21, 2015, 06:47
- Written by Caroline Pam
Things are heating up on the farm and we've got big plans for Chilifest this year!
This has been an amazing growing season and we're hauling in truck loads of gorgeous eggplants and tomatoes, garlic and onions, potatoes and greens. Now the peppers are starting to ripen and we're harvesting literally tons of hot peppers for our Kitchen Garden Brand sriracha. The official release of the 2015 batch will be at Chilifest!
Registration is now open to enter the Chili Cook-Off on Saturday 9/12 and the Hot Sauce Competition on Sunday 9/13. Entries must feature local ingredients and will be judged by local food experts and voted on during the public tasting. Deadline to enter is September 4!
What could be cooler than slurping a fresh shucked oyster from BerkShore with a splash of KG sriracha? And washing it down with some jalapeno cask beer from the People's Pint? Bart's Homemade is churning a custom habanero ice cream for the big weekend and Neftali Duran is making 100% local tacos served on Mi Tierra tortillas made with Kitchen Garden corn!
This year's music lineup is awesome. And the Kids will be back and we're excited to hear local punk band Potty Mouth, surf rock stars The Derangers, and local favorites Sun Parade, Great Smokey and The Snaz.
Spicy food lovers, take note: We are hosting a one-night-only pre-Chilifest pop-up dinner on Sunday, Sept. 6 at the Five Eyed Fox in Turners Falls.
Tim will be cooking five dishes, each featuring different chilies from the farm. Call early to reserve - seats are limited!
- Published on Thursday, May 14, 2015, 08:11
- Written by Caroline Pam
We just completed our first spring harvest from the field and can't wait to bring our haul to the farmers market this weekend! It's always such an energy boost after months of seeding and planting to peel back the row cover and witness an abundance of food ripe for the picking. We'll be in Greenfield and Northampton on Saturday and in Springfield on Tuesday. Come say hi and pick up some gorgeous radishes, spring garlic, baby bok choy, scallions, arugula, spinach and greens.
We planted many of our spring crops in our new field in Whately, where the soil is light and sandy and it was ready to work before all the fields at the home farm dried out. Of course, now everything is perfectly dry... we haven't seen rain for almost a month! If it's a rainy market day please come out and celebrate with us!
You can also find Caroline this Sunday at the Atlas Farm Store's Spring Festival from 12-4. We're thrilled to to have our spring greens and radishes for sale at this terrific farmstand in Deerfield and Caroline will be offering samples from one of the last bottles of our sriracha in the world (we are sold out until the new batch is ready in September).
We've got a good feeling about this season - thanks in large part to our fabulous crew.
We're getting more done in less time and having fun doing it because of the skill and spirit that these farmers bring to work every day. We love you Amy, Clara, Courtney, Dolly, Max, Mike, and Steve!
- Published on Friday, April 10, 2015, 05:18
- Written by Tim Wilcox
Well it’s been a long, cold winter, and though it seems like it will never end we know that spring is coming. Eventually. Even if we have to force the issue. Our greenhouses are busting at the seams with plants ready to go in the ground. Our crew is back and itching to get their hands dirty. We’ve been getting our equipment dusted off and greased up. And it’s looking like we might actually get back in the dirt this weekend. Fingers crossed.
We have been dreaming and scheming all winter long and have so much excitement heading into 2015, our 10th season farming! We bought 6 acres of land across the river in Whately, and it might be a bit of a trek to get over there but this piece could be a game changer for us. It’s light, sandy, high and dry land of the kind that’s in short supply on our home farm.
The new piece just about doubles the amount of prime farmland that we can farm. This year we’re growing 25 acres of vegetables - about half of our land is nice and sandy but the other half is heavier. Many of our most important crops require the lighter type of soil to thrive: carrots, tomatoes, peppers, squash, cucumbers, onions, potatoes…. Now that I think of it, pretty much everything we grow prefers this type of soil, so it’s a big deal. Having more land will help us improve crop rotation so that we can more quickly build up our soil fertility across all of our land, and more fertility means more vegetables!
We are also very excited to have most of our amazing crew from last year joining us for another season. Clara, Dolly, Amy, Laura, Max, Steve and Rosie welcome back and thanks for sticking with us! You are the heart of this operation. And we are really jumping out of our skin to have hired two new exceptional people: Courtney and Mike we are so excited to work with you guys!
We’ve got a bunch of new crops that we’re excited about growing this year. As I explained in our fall post, we planted a bunch of new garlic varieties and we're really trying to step it up in the garlic department. All of the garlic is up now and looking pretty healthy despite the harsh winter. We’re going to be growing a lot more beans this year: favas, barlotti beans, and romanos. Southern purple hull peas are back on the list again after missing them dearly for many years. We’ll also have a lot more Italian specialty greens: mainly spigariello, a type of kale used in southern Italy, broccoli rabe, and a lot more radicchio. Other notable increases include eggplant and specialty peppers, especially red chilies and habanero types that we’ll be making into our sriracha sauce.
Caroline wrote an article about Annie Myers from Myers Produce, a new local food distributor, for the spring issue of Edible Pioneer Valley. Check it out if you haven’t seen it. We are excited to grow more unique specialty items for Annie to bring to chefs and stores in New York and now Boston as well! We’ll be regularly supplying the coops in Greenfield, Northampton, and the Berkshires as well as dozens of great restaurants throughout the Valley, as usual. And our #1 restaurant customer in 2014, The Alvah Stone at the Montague Bookmill, just celebrated its 1 year anniversary last week. We are excited to continue our collaboration with this amazing team, so if you haven’t eaten there yet, what are you waiting for?
We’ll be back out at the Farmers Markets starting in May (with the exception of Amherst Saturday) and we have Market Share cards available. See the list of markets we attend here. We’re looking forward to seeing you all again!
Our sriracha was an astounding success and we have just sold the last of the 4,000 bottles we made last fall at the Western Mass Food Processing Center in Greenfield. We are planning to scale up our production again this year - about four times more than last year - in hopes of keeping the sauce flowing freely year-round starting this September. Bottles are still available at stores all over the Valley, while they last. We're also planning to make a lot more salsa!
On that note, save the date for Chilifest! It will be September 12 &13, at Mike’s Maze here in Sunderland. We’re growing over 40 varieties of hot peppers that will be on display, we’re booking bands and really excited about the lineup of food vendors this year. Stay tuned for more info!
- Published on Thursday, December 18, 2014, 09:46
- Written by Caroline Pam
We've been pulling some gorgeous greens out of the greenhouse this week gearing up for our last farmers market of the 2014 season. We're bringing a truckload of spinach, spicy mix and a wide selection of frost-sweetened vegetables to the Springfield Winter Market in Forest Park on Saturday from 10-2. All the details are on our farmers market page.
It's a special privilege to provide the ingredients for your festive holiday meals!
This week we made a second delivery of 1,500 pounds of carrots to the Western Mass Food Processing Center to be diced and flash frozen for our local school cafeterias. This is made possible by the Franklin County CDC's investment in a new IQF liquid nitrogen cooling system that preserves freshness better because of the quick freezing method. We're thrilled to be able to participate in this important new farm to school program and you can read more about it in this week's Valley Advocate.
In other news, we're very excited that our Sriracha was featured in the 2014 Holiday Gift Guide in Edible Manhattan! It's been wild starting to ship our sriracha around the country but we're also thrilled to report that you'll soon be able to find our hot sauce at Whole Foods in Hadley!
Thank you to all of our loyal customers for your support all year. It's an honor to grow food for you all!
Thanks are also due to our amazing farm crew, many of whom we are so happy will be returning to work with us again next season. We couldn't do what we do without all of you!
Here's to spring and more good things to come in 2015!
-Caroline & Tim
- Published on Thursday, November 13, 2014, 09:03
- Written by Tim Wilcox
After the hysterical flurry of activity that the early fall brings, with our nearly back-to-back festivals celebrating Chilies and Garlic at the end of September, the latter part of the fall has been pretty relaxed. Fall is perhaps our favorite time of year here at the farm; the crops have all been planted, now we just have to get them out of the field and get them sold.
Not that there's been a shortage of work to do. We were blessed with very favorable growing conditions for our fall crops and reaped some pretty astounding harvests of broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, radicchio and other fall vegetables.
We've also been busy making the final batches of our sriracha sauces up at the Franklin County CDC's Western Mass Food Processing Center in Greenfield. This year we processed about 2,500 lbs of chili peppers into sauce and made about 4,000 bottles of Sriracha. We hope it's enough to last the winter! It's been selling really well and we're starting to get some interest beyond the Pioneer Valley from buyers in NYC and Boston. More info on where to buy the sriracha here. It makes a great holiday gift for your spice-loving friends and family.
Fall is also the time of year for garlic planting and we are really excited about changes we're making to our garlic growing practices. We are seriously stepping up our game in the garlic department, but it's a long term process. This year, we purchased seed for 8 new varieties of garlic from Filaree Farm in Washington State. We plan to save all of the garlic that we grow out for replanting next year, so these new varieties won't actually be available until 2016! We will still have plenty of garlic from our own seed stocks available next year.
Another pet project here at the farm is our crop of several differnt varieties of radicchio. As some of you may know, Tim wrote his Hampshire Div 3 (thesis paper) about a radicchio farming community in Veneto, Italy, and spent time working on farms there in 2005.
We've been excited to see a growing trend toward greater appreciation of bitter greens in recent years, and have fielded many queries from other farmers interested in growing radicchio. The best kind of radicchio, the "tardivo" variety from Treviso, is about to come into season. We've harvested the first batch of plants which we then bring inside and place in tubs of water to force a second growth. The result is an extremely beautiful head of curled crimson and white shoots that are mild and crunchy (amarognolo e croccante). We look forward every year to serving this special radicchio during the holiday season.
You can find us at winter farmers markets so you can get some of this amazing radicchio and other veggies for your holiday tables as well. We are continuing to attend Saturday in Greenfield and Amherst until Nov. 22 outdoors in the normal location. We will be at the Springfield Forest Park winter market on Nov. 22, Dec. 13 and Dec. 20, and the Greenfield winter market on Dec. 6. Our sriracha sauce will be available through Winter Moon Farm at the Amherst and Northampton markets through the winter.
- Published on Monday, September 01, 2014, 03:37
- Written by Caroline Pam
It's almost time for Chilifest and our annual farm festival is going to be better than ever this year!
Join us Saturday and Sunday, September 13 & 14 at Mike's Maze in Sunderland for a weekend-long celebration of all things spicy!
We have terrific food vendors, great music, three local beers, amazing chef demos, chili cook-off on Saturday and hot sauce competition on Sunday, fabulous art and craft booths, and our own farm fresh sriracha is back by popular demand!
Dozens of exotic chilies from around the world, grown right here on our farm in Sunderland.
Our famous spicy tacos, Brass Buckle's award-winning chili, Laughing Tomato wood fired pizza, plus Bart's Homemade is bringing a special batch of chocolate cherry bomb ice cream made with our cherry bomb peppers!
Cast a vote for your favorite chili at the cook-off on Saturday and choose your favorite hot sauce at the competition on Sunday. There's still time to enter both events if you have a killer recipe! Rules on how to enter are here.
New spicy recipes from some of the area's best chefs at the cooking demo tent. On Saturday we'll have Neil Rogers from Volturno, Jim Zaccara from Hope & Olive making spicy cocktails, and JD Hairston from the Brass Buckle. On Sunday Terry Ragasa from Sutter Meats will show how to make spicy sausage, then see Unmi Abken from Coco, and David Schrier from the The Alvah Stone.
Our Kitchen Garden Sriracha is back and soon you'll also be able to find it at stores like River Valley Market, Greenfields Market, and the Atlas Farm Store! We're also making our popular roasted chili salsa, tomatillo salsa and introducing a new peach-habanero salsa available only at Chilifest.
We'll have lots of activities for kids including the Chili Man pinata, temporary chili and veggie tattoos, screen printing your own Chilifest t-shirt and fun farmy games!
Amazing local artists from the Artisans of Western Mass will have beautiful art and crafts for sale and we're planning an artist demonstration each day.
The full schedule of events is here. Don't miss the coolest farm festival for anyone who loves heat!